I am 63 years old and have lived in the city of Buenos Aires for 18 years now. I should say, Santa Maria de los Buenos Aires, which is the complete name. Now, I live in the neighbourhood of Balvanera, which is Comuna 3. I spend most of my time in the south of the city, although I know Palermo, Recoleta, and Belgrano very well, too. Barrio Chino is one of my favourite places to spend time.
To me, Buenos Aires is a great cultural capital, one of the most thriving and varied places in the world. The things I personally enjoy most are concentrated on Av. Corrientes, where I go to see theatre, films, and look through the libraries for many of the books I end up reselling here. You see many of them are books about football, or books by Argentine authors. Some are popular for reasons I don’t understand [Sergio gestures at a book with Justin Bieber on the cover].
Here, on Florida and Rivadavia, I sell my books. Previously, I worked in the restaurant industry, after I finished studying to be a cook. I did that for many years, but now I enjoy this more. I also sell antiques at the fair at Parque de Los Patricios, and you can see I knit hats, too. People like them this time of year because it is colder. I was just working on one now, in fact.
I appreciate many types of literature, but my favourite thing to read is Mafalda, by Joaquín Salvador Lavado, whose pen name is Quino. Mafalda is a brilliant character. There is even a statue of her sitting on a bench at the corner of Chile and Defensa, outside of where Quino once lived. “Paren el mundo que me quiero bajar” (“Stop the world, I want to get off”).
In my experience, I’ve always seen Buenos Aires, and all of Argentina, as becoming more and more responsible over time. We always become more and more Argentine in our identity. Though there are many things we don’t like, we are a responsible people. Everywhere, in the city especially, when we vote, we think. Many people say that our system in Argentina is disorganised, but it isn’t disorganised. It is a very thoughtful and free system, based on all of us being together as a country. All are friends.
Of course, because of the history of immigration here, because modern Argentina was founded on immigration, we are a city that welcomes foreigners. We welcome them, but I think we also try to accustom them to the culture we have created here. There are things we don’t like. We have ways of doing things. There are differences and we like to accustom people to our way, while respecting everyone’s freedom.
It is a wonderful place, in my opinion. The air is less contaminated than in other cities. We respect human rights for everyone. Women share the same freedom that men have, and they may even be more powerful than the men here, in commerce and elsewhere. The culture of Buenos Aires is for everyone to enjoy, no matter how much money you have. You see that many important things here are inexpensive, like transportation, our utilities. Anybody can go out and enjoy tango, or delicious food, whatever it may be. The customs of our city are open to be experienced by anyone and everyone.